Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders will summon the House back in session this coming week to confront President Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine the U.S. Postal Service, she announced Sunday night.
The House is expected to vote as early as Saturday, Aug. 22, on a proposal to block the Trump administration’s plan for overhauling the Postal Service. This is weeks earlier than Pelosi and the House Democratic leaders had originally planned to return to Washington. But the revised House schedule comes amid a national uproar over a crisis within the Postal Service ahead of a national election that will see an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots.
Democrats have grown increasingly alarmed that Trump is using the coronavirus pandemic to force service cutbacks at USPS ahead of Nov. 3. Democrats allege Trump’s appointee to lead the Postal Service, Louis DeJoy, has overseen substantial operational changes to the agency that has led to backlogs and service interruptions — an immense concern as millions of Americans prepare to receive and return their ballots through the mail.
Trump has long alleged, without evidence, that mail-in voting perpetuates election fraud.
“Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi said in a letter to fellow House Democrats on Sunday.
“That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman [Carolyn] Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”
Pelosi said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) would formally announce the new schedule on a call with members set for Monday. The next set of House votes had orignally been slated for the week of Sept. 14 before this latest uproar.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a Trump ally, claimed Democrats are trying to focus on the Postal Service’s problems because they weren’t able to reach a deal with the White House over a new coronavirus relief package.
“Republicans are 100 percent committed to ensuring a fair and accurate election. Whether Americans choose to vote in-person — which Doctor Fauci has stated will be safe — or vote absentee, I have complete confidence in the integrity of our electoral process,” McCarthy said in a statement. “House Democrats are simply attempting to distract from the fact their ridiculous demands are dragging down the American recovery and adding more uncertainty to people’s livelihoods.”
But House Democrats signaled this weekend that they will mount aggressive oversight of DeJoy, a Trump donor and loyalist, and have demanded the postmaster general appear for an emergency committee hearing on Monday, Aug. 24.
Pelosi and Maloney announced the hearing this weekend, warning that the agency’s changes “are slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election.” Democrats in both the House and Senate had already demanded a slew of documents from DeJoy and his top staff, seeking details on why DeJoy had cracked down on overtime hours, restricted certain deliveries and offered conflicting information on the timeline for mail-in ballots.
Pelosi and her leadership team held an emergency call Saturday to discuss several options to deal with the turmoil at the Postal Service as several rank-and-file Democrats from progressives to moderates publicly demanded action.
Some Democrats, including moderate Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), said DeJoy should be arrested if he ignores a congressional subpoena to testify. Democratic leaders would not pursue that option, but Cooper’s suggestion, which was echoed by other Democrats, signals how angry lawmakers are about what’s unfolding at the Postal Service.
The House is expected to vote on a modified version of a bill Maloney introduced last week that would block many of the major organizational changes DeJoy is seeking before the election.
Some top Democrats on the call this weekend also argued for having the House take additional action on other measures tied to the coronavirus pandemic, including expired federal unemployment benefits. The House could vote on other economic proposals during its emergency session, but nothing has been officially decided, according to multiple Democratic aides.
The House passed a major coronavirus relief bill in May that included a $25 billion infusion for the Postal Service and an additional $3.6 billion in election security funding.
Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the White House had agreed to provide $10 billion in Postal Service funding during coronavirus talks earlier this month before the negotiations fell apart.
Schumer on Sunday called on Senate GOP leaders to bring back their members, as well, to vote on the House’s bill to “undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service.”